“Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In many studies on human behaviors, psychologists have found that there are typical (“normal”) distribution curves. They follow a curve we’ve all seen before—the one that looks like a bell.

The peak of the curve is roughly in the middle and represents the highest number of people exhibiting a particular behavior. The left and right edges represent the lowest number of people exhibiting that particular behavior, or belief.

The edges are sometimes referred to as “fringes,” which often represent or involve radical or extreme behaviors or beliefs.

In my experience, companies act the same way. As a leader, you’ve got to recognize those fringes.

So, which do I aspire to be? A business leader who behaves or believes (or has a perspective) near the center, or the “norm,” near the area that’s most consistent with the majority of my competitors? Or a leader who behaves or believes somewhere along the fringes, where those behaviors and beliefs can be the most extreme?

The answer, I think is … both.

The truth is, I think there are situations that should call for (and that should be a warning against) each position.  Here are some of those situations, for your consideration.

When not to be a Fringe Lunatic:

  1. When reacting to day-to-day performance;
  2. When planning for the next quarter or year;
  3. When passing judgement on events or people, without adequate depth of knowledge;
  4. When deciding how we react to business challenges, market obstacles and customer complaints; and
  5. When dealing with vendor relationships.

When you should be a Fringe Lunatic:

  1. When setting the expectations of your organization through empathy, action and consistency;
  2. When pursuing knowledge and expanding your expertise;
  3. When dreaming dreams, setting goals and creating action items;
  4. In your pursuit to create happy customers with each and every project;
  5. When prioritizing the actions necessary to grow your enterprise;
  6. When reinforcing your company’s culture; and
  7. When giving your absolute attention to employees and customers.

With all that’s going on in the world right now, I choose when I should and shouldn’t be a fringe lunatic.

This is not a political statement. This is a decision to be measured in my reactions to the great many issues we are witnessing (and being bombarded with daily), as well as the subsequent business challenges we face.

This is a decision to seek perspective from the entire distribution curve, and to act in a way that empathizes with the views of others, but also filters those views through a prism of decency and common sense that is often present with the too-often-silent majority.

This is a decision to recognize when behaving or believing at the “extremes” actually moves me in the direction of becoming my best self—a leader capable of empathy and executing—the decision to be a servant leader, to lift up those around me, to serve those who engage my business, and to conduct myself with the discipline that leads to success.

If my perspective appeals to you, I’d love to tell you about the network we’re building.

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